Lawmakers kick off 2008 legislative session with plans for education, health care and immigration

Gov. Matt Blunt (R) announces his recommendation for funding in Ellis Fischel Cancer Center

Members of the Missouri General Assembly began the 2008 legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with plans to increase funding for education and health care, pass immigration reform plans and identify ways to provide tax relief for senior citizens.

In the Senate chamber, President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) opened with an address that stressed the importance of working together. He also discussed priorities and goals for the session, including preventing tax increases caused by reassessments, dealing with illegal immigration, and working to provide health insurance in the marketplace while putting consumers in the driver’s seat. 

In the House, Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) presided over his last opening day in his final term. He reviewed progress made over the last seven years, including adding $74 million to higher education operating budgets and $45 million in new scholarship funding. His address listed four priorities for this session: increasing teacher salaries; a teacher protection act to help teachers deal with problem students; an illegal immigration proposal; and providing relief for increasing property taxes. 

Senate and House committees will begin meeting to hear bills next week, and the governor will deliver his State of the State and Budget Address on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. The legislative session will conclude May 16.

icon question markUniversity updates

University of Missouri legislative priorities 2008

The University of Missouri’s legislative priorities for 2008 include the operating budget, capital projects, and educating health care providers for Missouri’s citizens:

  • The University supports the governor’s proposed 4.2 percent increase to its budget in FY09. This would increase the University’s general operating appropriation from $413 million to $430.3 million, or a $17.3 million increase.
  • The University supports funding for a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at MU and a Pharmacy and Nursing facility at UMKC, as well as funding for the top priority capital projects at each UM campus.
  • The University supports increasing the number of health professional graduates to meet shortages in the state.
Join alumni and supporters for the 34th annual Legislative Day

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 5, for the 34th annual University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension Legislative Day at the State Capitol. Events include a University rally, legislator visits, and a display showcase featuring research and economic development initiatives from each campus and Extension. The annual awards dinner will be held the evening before, Tuesday, March 4. Honorees for outstanding alumni service include Congressman Kenny Hulshof, University of Missouri; Rep. Judy Baker, MU; Freda Mendez Smith, UMKC; Rep. Steven Tilley, UMSL; Rep. Bob May, Missouri S&T; and Sen. Frank Barnitz, Extension. Find out more about the schedule and registration information.

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icon question markState relations

Governor proposes increase to State Historical Society

Gov. Matt Blunt announced Wednesday, Dec. 26, that he will recommend a $100,000 increase to the State Historical Society of Missouri core operating budget for Fiscal Year 2009. This will add to the $500,000 increase approved last year and will provide the society the largest appropriation ever from the state for the second year in a row. The funding will help the society with recruiting and retaining staff to support their ongoing efforts to collect, preserve, make accessible, and publish material to preserve the history of Missouri. The State Historical Society is housed at Ellis Library on the MU campus.

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icon question markCampus highlights

Governor holds press conferences at MU and UMSL
Governor Matt Blunt
Gov. Blunt speaks about increased funding for scholarships at UMSL.

At the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Thursday, Dec. 13, Gov. Matt Blunt announced that he will ask lawmakers to approve $100 million for Access Missouri Scholarships, an increase of more than $27 million. The Department of Higher Education has estimated that 43,000 students are receiving Access Missouri scholarships. University of Missouri expects to see both the number of students served and the dollar amount awarded increase with the new need-based scholarship program.

The governor also visited MU’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders on Friday, Jan. 4, to announce $12.4 million in new funding to support autism diagnosis and treatment and to help eliminate wait lists. Of this funding, $5 million will be dedicated for capital improvements at the Thompson Center, $6.4 million will go to reduce waiting lists for diagnosis and services, and $1 million will go to specific centers to increase treatment throughout the state.

Senate President Pro Tem Gibbons visits University Hospital
Sen. Gibbons (middle) and UM Health Care CEO Jim Ross (right) tour the emergency room.
Sen. Gibbons (middle) and UM Health Care CEO Jim Ross (right) tour the emergency room.

Sen. Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), the President Pro Tem of the Senate, visited with University of Missouri Health Care administrators and physicians while touring the University Hospital. Jim Ross, UM Health Care chief executive officer, led a tour of the Emergency Room, which featured a telemedicine demonstration. The senator then discussed the treatment of cancer and the Children’s Blood Disorders Clinic with Dr. Bill Caldwell, director of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Gibbons ended the tour in the newly remodeled, state-of-the-art Burn Intensive Care Unit, which is the largest such facility in Missouri. 

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